Today was my first day back teaching. Very long day – given I woke up wide awake at 1 am and didn't go back to sleep. Ah, well, jetlag.
I was standing in the hallway at around 3. Some of the middle schoolers come early for special summer session classes. Suddenly, one student, Seongjun, saw me. "Teacher!" he yelled. "Oh…. teacher!"
He ran down the hall and hugged me. Really? I've never, ever had a middle-school student show such effusiveness. "Oh, teacher. We missed you." Keep in mind, Seongjun isn't a cute little kid. He's a 7th grader, but he's big. Nearly as tall as me, and stockily built – if he worked out, he could look like a wrestler.
"I missed you too. I came back," I said. But I was puzzled. "Why did you miss me so much?"
"Oh, teacher, it was terrible."
"What?" I had a flash of intuition. "Wait. Who was your substitute teacher?" Of course, all the students had substitute teachers, while I was gone – the classes went on, after all.
It all became clear. Curt is the boss. He's also a caring teacher – but he's got a bit of a reputation as an overly serious and somewhat boring teacher, I have to admit. He likes to lecture and "give advice" – very Korean-style.
"I'm sorry," I said.
It was flattering to be so missed, though.